Concern raised at protest action

Friday, October 12, 2012

Johannesburg - Public Enterprises Minister Malusi Gigaba is pleased that the strike in the transport sector has come to an end, but has expressed concern at current industrial action at certain coal mines.

Addressing media on the state of electricity supply in the country on Friday, the minister said: "The recent strike in the transport sector, has put added risk to the system as it hampered delivery of coal at the power stations. We welcome the resolution of the strike as it will bring a degree of comfort to our own work."

All four unions representing truck drivers signed an agreement this morning binding them to a three-year industry wage agreement . According to the agreement, employers offered a 10 percent increase in the first year, and eight percent in the second.

This brought to an end the three-week strike in the transport industry, marked by violence that left several truck drivers injured and one dead.

The minister said that up to 30% of the coal from Eskom's power stations is delivered by trucks and that the level of coal stock piles had fallen to an average of 43 days which was within the target range.

Regarding the strike action in the coal mine sector, he said: "I am deeply concerned about the industrial action that has kicked off in the coal mines which if allowed to go on longer will have a severe impact on the security of supply.

"The sustainable price and supply of coal over the next five years is critical and has been sighted as pivotal for the management of electricity prices going forward. We urge the mining sector to resolve the matter."

Eskom Chief Executive Officer Brian Dames said the parastatal had been monitoring developments in the coal mines and that it had held discussions with the Chamber of Mines on the matter.

"We are concerned of protest action at coal mines in the last week," said Dames.

South Africa has experienced a flurry of protest action in the mining industry.